Be found by those looking for your product/service locally
If you’ve got a business with physical locations or you serve customers in specific geographical areas and want to know how you can reach them better, you need an agency offering local SEO services – so you’ve come to the right place!
Local SEO is the practice of optimising your website in order to increase traffic, leads, and brand awareness from local search results. At a high-level, local SEO works like ‘normal’ Google searches. When someone does a search, Google scans through its massive index (think about your website as you would a book in a library) to provide the best results for that person’s query. What makes local SEO unique is that Google uses a different set of ranking factors (more on this later) to rank the local search results 1 by 1. In order to capitalise on this, a range of technical and creative techniques need to be used to convince Google (and other search engines) that your brand or business should be prominent in results, is relevant to the initial query, and is in close proximity to the searcher. In other words, prominence, relevance, and proximity are the three pillars of local SEO and are a great way to break down the algorithm. Let’s dive into these further.
Proximity is all about how close your place of business is to the person searching for your products or services. Say you’re in-market for an SEO agency – you search ‘local SEO services near me’ and your location of search is near our business, we are more likely to appear in the search results. On the other hand, if you’re based in Auckland and you search ‘best local SEO packages’, Google will avoid showing SEO agencies in Christchurch – unless the location, in this case Christchurch, is specified.
In terms of techniques used to influence this pillar, ensure your business has up-to-date NAP citations (name, address, phone number) and a well-optimised Google Business Profile. Also consider building unique landing pages for each location you operate in, i.e., if you provide the same products/services in multiple cities.
Just like with Google Search Ads, Google’s primary purpose is to satisfy user intent – and it’s no different in regards to SEO in general, or local SEO. It’s all about how relevant the search term is to your business – think about the keywords or phrases your customers would use to find you. Not just your business name; put yourself in their shoes and keep it simple! As a local SEO Auckland agency, keywords such as ‘local SEO services’ would be highly relevant to us, so we have made sure our website features that keyword (i.e., on this page!) and incorporated it into our Google Business Profile to encourage Google to show us higher up in the search results.
Techniques used to influence this pillar include optimising your Google Business Profile with relevant keywords (not just the profile itself but by making regular updates and posts/links to blogs too), utilising keywords in your website page titles, and using keywords in online reviews.
Arguably the most important of the three pillars, prominence refers to the ‘authority’ of the local business – essentially how popular it is! This can be a daunting aspect of local SEO, as it’s something that can only come with time and effort, especially if you are a new start-up.
The way Google determines prominence is largely based on ranking signals, which we will go into more detail on below. However, the core techniques used to influence this pillar include building backlinks (getting other relevant websites to include links in their content back to your website), social media mentions, follows, reviews, and engagement, positive Google reviews (via your Google Business Profile, aiming for 5-star) and getting your NAP citations listed correctly on as many relevant business directories as possible (i.e., Yellow, Neighbourly, Localist, etc.).
When it comes down to it, just remember that the more diverse your link profile is (in terms of the number of domains pointing to you), the more social engagement, the better the reviews, and the more consistent the citations, the more trust and authority you will build with search engines.
How does local SEO work and how will it add value to your business?
So we’ve explained the three pillars in terms of implementing a local SEO strategy – the ‘why’, but now let’s understand the ‘how’ – how it works, and what you should focus on. Common tasks associated with local SEO include publishing high quality local content incorporating relevant local keywords, acquiring backlinks, optimising your Google Business Profile, and building ‘NAP’ citations. But what ‘weight’ do these factors have when it comes to determining where you rank on the page for local results? Find out below.
2023 local organic ranking signals
2023 local pack ranking signals
Complement your local SEO strategy with Google Search Ads
2023 local organic ranking signals
When thinking about ranking signals for local SEO, think about it in terms of where your time could be spent when trying to maximise results. The higher the weighting (out of 100), the more influence that signal potentially has on where you will appear in the local search results for a given relevant query. The reason we say ‘potentially’ is because no one truly knows what Google’s algorithms are!
The below weighting is based on a 2023 local search Whitespark study polling the opinions of SEO experts to determine which signals had the greatest impact on local organic ranking. However, seeing as Google will likely serve results differently for different industries, businesses, platforms, and devices, take this as a great starting point rather than something set in stone.
1. On-Page Signals 36%
On-page signals are elements that will help make your website stronger in terms of being seen online.
100% unique content for every location page on your site (if relevant)
Avoid duplicate content – quality content is king, not just for local SEO but for SEO as a whole!
Presence of NAP (name, address, phone number)
Utilise geo-modified keyword/s in your meta title and H1 heading
Optimise meta descriptions for local searches
Focus on your domain authority (link signals; more on this below), as this will only strengthen on-page signals. If one of your location pages has higher page authority than your entire site (domain), you may rank higher by linking your Google Business Profile to this page instead of your homepage!
Please note: If you offer the same services or products in multiple cities, think carefully about attempting to create a unique page for every possible city/keyword combination. Only embark on this plan if you know you have sufficient resources in time, money, and talent to create truly high-quality pages for each combination. Avoid publishing thin, useless, or duplicate pages. If you know you don’t have the resources, it’s better to go with just a strong page for each city and a strong page for each service rather than creating lots of thin or duplicate city/keyword combo pages.
2. Link Signals 26%
Link building is the practise of acquiring links pointing from one domain to another. The more diverse your link profile is (in terms of the number of domains pointing to you), the more trust and authority you will build with search engines.
Reach out to as many relevant and high authority websites (either industry related or editorially placed) as possible. It’s all about linking domain authority and quantity in terms of building trust with Google
Ensure those links are “follow”’, as opposed to “nofollow”
Ensure the inbound anchor text (the actual words on another site holding the link back to your website) is relevant and descriptive. It informs search engines what the link is about
Sign up for Google Alerts (or ‘Mention’) and you will be alerted of any brand mention
Never purchase links and watch out for low quality, spammy sites and links pointing back to your site
Don’t underestimate the power of social media platforms when link building. A popular Facebook page, Instagram profile, or LinkedIn profile can rank highly in a Google search and provide valuable links back to your website. Start with the most popular platforms, like Meta, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter. However, remember to only use those that are right for your business and that you can manage and update on a regular basis.
3. Behavioural Signals 9%
Think about behavioural signals as you would a popularity contest; the thought behind it is that the more your website is clicked on for a given search result, it may show up more in the future for that keyword. A lot of this information can be found within your GA4 account or Google Business Profile.
FOCUS ON IMPROVING YOUR:
Website traffic – how many people in total are clicking through to your website from search results or your Google Business Profile?
Click-through rate – when your website or Google Business Profile comes up in search results, how often is it clicked on?
Mobile clicks to call – how many times are people clicking the ‘call’ button on your Google Business Profile?
Check-ins – how many times are people clicking the “Directions” button on your Google Business Profile or ‘checking in’ at your business?
Time spent on site – how long are people engaging with your content or staying on site?
4. Google Business Profile Signals 9%
Over the past few years, Google Business Profiles have quickly become the consumers go-to when trying to find information about a physical business (not applicable to online only businesses). It features core business information such as your address, phone number, and opening hours, plus reviews, photos, FAQs, and more.
Complete your listing, filling out every available field.
Fill out the primary category section to improve your chances of ranking locally for your services.
If you’re able to, include the primary local keyword you’re focusing on in your business title i.e. if someone is searching for ‘seo services north shore auckland’ and your business is called North Shore SEO Specialists Auckland Ltd, Google might rank it higher than a business called Bob’s SEO Agency.
Craft a description of the business and fill it with semantically rich content (and relevant keywords!)
Post weekly updates to increase your real estate, pushing down the competitors that sit within ‘People Also Search For’.
Keep in mind that the benefits of posting on your Google Business Profile go beyond acquiring views and clicks on your latest content. Regular posting can earn you a coveted spot in the local 3-pack, which is the top 3 business listings for relevant search terms, and this placement alone is a valid reason to add a new post at least every 7 days. Our next section touches on the local pack in more detail.
5. Personalisation 7%
Personalisation signals are often considered the least important when it comes to choosing where your time is spent on optimisation, given that we can’t control them. In Google’s eyes, just because someone searched for ‘best frappes in Auckland’ yesterday doesn’t mean you want one today. The only point of influence on rank is the location of the searcher, or, in other words, how close your business is to the location from which the search is made. If you walk around Auckland City searching for the same thing, the results will change depending on where you are. This is especially true for the local pack (read more on this in the next section). Hence, it’s something you can’t control.
6. Citation Signals 7%
NAP citations are another key local SEO ranking signal. NAP citations are places where your name, address, and phone number are all listed out. Google uses NAPs to confirm that all of your business information is correct. The more often they see NAP citations for your business, the more confident they are that your address is where you say it is and your phone number is correct.
Ensure your NAP is listed within the footer of every page of your website
Ensure your NAP is clearly listed on the contact page of your website
Get as many consistent NAP citations on reputable directories as you can
PLACES TO START:
Google Business Profile (most important!)
Yellow Pages (yes, it still exists online!)
Industry specific directories, i.e., TripAdvisor, Yelp, local tourism sites, i.e., rotoruanz.com, menus.com, etc – there is highly likely to be at least one for your industry!
Your local Chamber of Commerce
Your social media platforms
7. Review Signals 6%
Review signals provide Google with a vote of confidence that your consumers trust your business. Reviews also help your overall SEO strategy.
Increase the volume of reviews by sending out a link from your Google Business Profile for your customers to review. If you use an email marketing platform, this link could be incorporated into an automated email that’s sent after every purchase/completed service/completed booking, etc – Google looks at how recent your reviews are and how often you receive them
Increase the diversity of review platforms (don’t be reliant on just one), i.e. ask for reviews on Meta (Facebook), Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc if relevant
Always respond to every review (positive and negative)
Don’t incentivise your customers to leave reviews or ask for reviews in bulk
Testimonials on your website may be looked at by Google as well so do include these on your site where relevant
2023 local pack ranking signals
The local pack is a set of three local business results with a map of their locations from Google Maps. It uses the same signals as before, but the weighting of each is slightly different, with a much greater emphasis being placed on the Google Business Profile itself as well as on-page signals (quality content!) and review signals. The local pack is what’s known as a Search Engine Results Page Feature (SERP Feature) and is a great way to get in front of your customers other than the standard ‘10 blue links’ you usually see on a page of search results.
Listing your primary business category – this is often missed!
Having keywords in your Google Business Profile title/name (please note that you may not be able to do this as Google usually requires it to be your business name only)
Proximity of your business address to the point of search
Your physical address actually being in the city of search
Removal of spam listings through spam preventative mechanisms
High (4 or 5 stars) Google reviews
Additional Google Business Profile categories
Quantity of Google reviews with text
Verified Google Business Profile
Proximity of your address to centroid (radius that you can rank in, important for city-based search terms such as those that include ‘Auckland’)
If you’d like one-off help with Google Map optimisation services nz, we can put together a custom proposal purely for this. Get in touch with us today.
Complement your local SEO strategy with Google Search Ads
Google Search Ads can be a powerful complement to your local SEO strategy simply because they provide businesses with increased visibility and targeted reach. While local SEO services focus on optimising local organic search results, Google Search Ads allow you to appear at the top of search engine results pages through paid advertising. By running targeted ad campaigns, you can ensure your products or services are prominently displayed to potential customers who are actively searching for relevant local keywords or phrases. This strategy is particularly effective if your brand/business wants to quickly boost online visibility, reach a wider audience, or promote time-sensitive offers or events (especially to your local community!). By combining local SEO efforts with Google Search Ads, you can achieve a comprehensive online presence, capturing both organic and paid search traffic. This integrated approach helps maximise your chances of attracting qualified leads, increasing website traffic, and ultimately driving more conversions and revenue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is local SEO important?
Your business needs to be easy to find and contact by those who are nearby and proactively searching for a business or services like yours, and that’s why local SEO is important. Here’s one example of local SEO: if cafe X sells an exquisite flat white and a potential customer searches for the “best coffee near me”, cafe X may come up in Google as an option as long as they have a fully optimised Google Business Profile and all of their appropriate contact information is visible on their website. Optimising for local SEO can make the difference between increasing foot traffic through the door or a slow day at cafe X. Any business with a brick and mortar location will benefit from the increased visibility of an optimised Google Business Profile delivering more customer engagement as a result. Whether you’re a tradie, a lawyer, a book-store, a hairdresser, a retailer, an educator, a medical practice or any other type of business who supplies products or services, a Google Business Profile is a highly effective marketing tool.
Does utilising local SEO tools make it easier for people to interact with my business?
Yes! If your business utilises all of the tools available through local SEO, Auckland locals (or those in the city/town where you are located) will easily find your name, phone number, and address. If clients who are in your location access your Google Business Profile from their mobile phones, they will have the ability to call, get GPS directions, and ask questions with the click of a button. Customers who have purchased your products or services can also interact by writing a review you can respond to or adding images to your Google Business Profile.
What is local SEO pricing?
Local SEO in itself is free! If you would like assistance and wish to leverage the extensive knowledge and experience of the Conversion Marketing SEO team, we can provide you with a quote for local seo services. We thoroughly analyse your online presence and provide best practice recommendations for optimising your Google local business listing and any local SEO-related information on your website.
Does my social media presence play a part in local SEO?
Yes! Through your social media, you will be able to interact with your local community, share events, comment on hot topics of conversation, answer questions and interact with or post local events. Having a presence among those in your community will provide you with the opportunity to answer questions and build valuable relationships with potential customers. Sharing images of events and milestones should make those who follow you feel connected while showing trustworthiness and strengthening your local search rankings. Additionally, Facebook and reviews from other channels can show up on your Google Business profile which can build trust and improve customer engagement.
Who will set up my Google business profile?
You can claim or create a Google Business Profile by following the set up instructions here. Our SEO team can also help you with this. Once this is set up, you will manage your profile and with our local SEO services, you will receive SEO best practice advice on how to keep it optimised so that you are visible to the people that matter.
How long does it take for local SEO to work?
When implementing local SEO best practises, businesses will find that consistency and patience is the key. Local SEO optimisation requires consistent efforts which involve the maintenance of your online business profile, and the ability to adapt to ever-changing Google algorithms. It may take several months to see sustainable results, but it’s worth the wait to be easily found in search engine results, drive traffic to your business, and build online credibility.
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